Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago

GCI Seminar

Lessons from One Year at Hull-House and the Legacy of Jane Addams at UIC: Engaging Publics, Counterpublics and Communities

Lisa Lee
Director, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
University of Illinois at Chicago

October 9, 2007

Lisa Yun Lee, the Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum will talk about the challenges of bridging various publics, engaging contentious history through Alternative Labeling Projects, finding funding for projects in the age of the so-called "non-profit industrial complex", and the movement away from viewing museum visitors not simply as consumers and towards addressing them as citizens and towards something less exclusionary than citizens in this moment of immigration reform.

Lisa Yun Lee is the Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and a faculty member of Art History, which are a part of the College of Architecture and the Arts at UIC. She is the Co-Founder and former Director of The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council. Lisa received her B.A. in Religion at Bryn Mawr College and her Ph.D. in German Studies from Duke University. She also teaches a class on art and politics and the relationship between theory and practice as a visiting professor at the School of the Art Institute Chicago.

Lisa's last book was Dialectics of the Body: Corporeality in the Philosophy of Theodor W. Adorno (Routledge, 2005) and she is working on a new project about the radical potential and practice of oppositional body language and gesture. She serves on the Board of Trustees of Bryn Mawr College, the Ms. Magazine Advisory Board, the Boards of Young Chicago Authors, the Public Housing Museum, Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, International Contemporary Music Ensemble and the Chicago Children's Theatre.

Download the podcast of this presentation.

A Space for Dissent: Lessons from the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

On Tuesday, October 9, 2007 Lisa Yun Lee, director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago presented Lessons from One Year at Hull-House and the Legacy of Jane Addams at UIC: Engaging Publics, Counterpublics and Communities. The museum seeks to serve the legacy of Hull-House and the work of Jane Addams through engaged academic partnerships in areas such as peace and justice, labor, immigration, youth, arts, and democracy. Lee spoke of how the museum strives to reconnect with local, national, and international groups to bring this type of work into the museum today.

Lee talked about the importance of keeping the legacy of Jane Addams alive, not through a static memorial, but through active engagement with community —- to create an experience where future generations can relate and be inspired and educated as a way to encourage future social activism. She also spoke about the history of Hull-House as a place where controversial issues were welcomed and addressed. One of the museum’s current objectives is to create and maintain a space where active dissent can take place. Lee sees Hull-House functioning as a space for counterpublics. Instead of just representing or reflecting the history of Hull-House or the story of Jane Addams, the Hull-House Museum can also produce and provide a space for new experiences.

Lee recited the following quote by Jane Addams, which serves as a source of inspiration for her and for the Hull-House Museum in its goal to keep Addams’ story, work, and philosophy alive and active into the future:

"The only thing to be dreaded in the Settlement is that it could lose its flexibility, its power of quick adaptation, its readiness to change its methods as its environment may demand. It must be open to conviction and must have a deep and abiding sense of tolerance... It must be grounded in a philosophy whose foundation is on the solidarity of the human race."